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Bond money for projects goes to Democrats

MONTGOMERY (AP) — While approving $295 million for four large industrial projects, the state Bond Commission also approved more than $10.2 million in small contracts for 22 local industrial development projects, mostly in districts represented by Democrats.

The bond money was made possible in June when voters approved a measure increasing the state's borrowing capacity by $400 million, with $220 million going for a German steel plant at Mobile and $75 million more for three other major industrial projects.

But when the bond commission met last week, it also approved more than $10.2 million for the 22 local projects, 10 of them in the district of state Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, the Press-Register reported Monday.

Cities and counties in northwest Alabama represented by Bedford, who is chairman of the Senate's Finance and Taxation General Fund committee, will receive $2.7 million, or 26 percent of the total for the smaller projects. Bedford is also a member of the bond commission.

"All of them are very worthy projects," Bedford told the Press-Register.

"Rural Alabama deserves the same opportunities our municipalities enjoy."

More than 80 percent of the $10.2 million will go to projects in districts served by Democrats.

The commission consists of Gov. Bob Riley, State Finance Director Jim Main, State Revenue Commissioner Thomas Surtees, Bedford and House Government Appropriations Committee Chairman John Knight, D-Montgomery. Main and Surtees are both Riley appointees.

Bedford said all the projects were approved unanimously by the commission.

"When it comes to jobs, there are no Ds, there are no Rs," Bedford said.

The bond commission did not solicit applications for the money, Main said.

"There was no specific request for applications," Main said. "We have a limited amount of money anyway. The commission wasn't looking for projects, we were responding to requests."

Most of the money going to Bedford's district will be used for various industrial park developments, which the senator said would allow his district to take advantage of a Toyota manufacturing plant scheduled to open outside Tupelo, Miss., in 2010.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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